In a season of so many notable highs, claiming a 4-1 triumph at the home of their oldest rivals last December was among the most memorable. And as Liverpool prepare to make the short journey across Stanley Park for the 241st Merseyside derby on Saturday, that Jota is now finally ready to begin contributing having been absent for almost two months with a hamstring issue is another reason to celebrate.

Certainly, the Reds have missed the option of the Portuguese forward during a difficult start to the campaign in the post-Sadio Mane era. Not least for his ability as a “game-breaker”, the player likely to notch the all-important first goal in breaking down stubborn defences.

Indeed, what was unusual about Jota’s emphatic finish on Liverpool’s last visit to Everton is that it was the final goal of a comfortable triumph. Jota scored 21 times for Jurgen Klopp’s side last term. A whopping 14 were the first goal in the game – including the season opener in the 3-0 win at Norwich City – while a further six were the pivotal second, half of which came having already opened the scoring. Goodison aside, Jota only deals in match-defining strikes.

And such a contribution has been tellingly absent this campaign. It doesn’t take a huge stretch of the imagination to envisage Jota making a positive difference had he been available from the opening weekend, particularly with Liverpool having been forced to overcome some resolute defences. Only in last weekend’s 9-0 romp at Bournemouth have they scored first in a game.

While a tally of 34 goals in 85 games so far was sufficient for Liverpool to reward Jota with a new contract last month, the reality is the player may feel he has a bit of catching up to do when he returns to action.


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